Sunday, May 31, 2015

Foolproof Grilled BBQ Chicken

We've all been there: standing over a hot grill for 45 minutes, crossing your fingers that your overly charred bone-in chicken is cooked through in the middle.  You're starving, as is everyone that's waiting as the sides and drinks fizzle out. 

If this scene sounds all to familiar to you, then this is the recipe for you.  It's completely foolproof, and will even save you about 30 minutes of standing over the flaming grill.  The secret?  Cook the chicken first of course! 

Un-glamarous, pre-grill shot! 

I've long been a fan of brining, which just means to soak the chicken in a mixture of salt and sugar (and sometimes garlic and herbs) before it cooks.  Brining keeps the meat incredibly moist and flavorful, so why not cook the chicken in the brine itself?  For this recipe, I fully cooked the chicken in boiling brine, then grilled it for less than ten minutes to add those grill marks and texture we all love, and topped it off with my favorite bar-b-que sauce. The results were perfectly cooked, super flavorful chicken, with no guess work required! 

This recipe would be great for a party since you can easily cook the chicken in advance, then throw it on the grill just before serving (I would refrigerate cooked chicken and allow it to sit at room temperature prior to grilling if making ahead).

Ingredients (Serves 2-3, easily doubled):
*6 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
*12 c. water
*1/2 c. salt
*1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
*1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
*olive oil cooking spray
*store bought or homemade BBQ sauce

Bring water to a boil over high heat in a large stock pot.  When the water is boiling, add salt, brown sugar, and whole garlic head.  Add the chicken and boil until it just starts to pull away from the bone (about 20-25 minutes for legs). Remove the cooked chicken from the water and set aside. 

Preheat the grill over medium-high heat.  Spray the grill and chicken lightly with olive oil cooking spray.  Add the chicken to the grill and turn it just after you have light grill marks.  After you turn it, brush it with BBQ sauce.  Continue to turn and baste until desired doneness is reached.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fried Shrimp

How was everyone's long weekend?  I hope everyone had time for some fun in the sun, but more importantly took a moment to thank or remember the brave men and women who have fought, or fight today, for our freedom. 

Besides a little day trip to Raleigh, I spent the weekend relaxing, lounging at the beach enjoying the beautiful weather with my best friend Magen, and kicking off the season with some scrumptious summer food. 

I always up my seafood game in the summer - maybe because I spend so much time near the ocean.  Sunday night, I thought I'd whip up some Fried Shrimp and not only was it simple, but these crispy shrimp are super crunchy and flavorful. The tender shrimp are first soaked in buttermilk, hot sauce, and brightened up with lemon zest, then dredged in a combination of seasoned flour and cornmeal.  The cornmeal creates a surprising, extra crisp texture.

For frying, I broke out the Fry Daddy I got as a wedding gift, but you could easily use a big pot of peanut oil to fry these.  I would recommend monitoring the temperature because you'll notice when you add the shrimp the oil cools down significantly.  I fried in batches and allowed the oil to return to 375 before adding more shrimp.  

*1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (I left tails on to for easy grabbing, but remove them if you prefer)
*2 c. buttermilk
*zest of 1 lemon
*8 dashes hot sauce (or more!)
*1 c. flour
*1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
*1 tsp. paprika
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1/2 tsp. pepper
*Peanut oil, for frying

In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, lemon zest, and hot sauce.  Add the shrimp and stir so they are all coated.  Refrigerate for 5 minutes. 

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt, and pepper, and mix well.  

Preheat peanut oil to 375.  Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.  Remove shrimp individually, let the excess buttermilk drain off, then dredge in the flour mixture.  Shake off any excess, then fry in batches (don't overcrowd the oil) for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on the paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.  Repeat with remaining shrimp. 

Serve with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and tartar sauce.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Blondies

Happy Monday all!  If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that Mike and I just returned last week from vacation in beautiful St. John, but i'm finally getting back in the swing of things around here!  

Last week was so hectic after getting home mid-week and diving full force into work.  This weekend was finally a chance to relax, catch up on house work and do a little baking!

I'm not always a big sweets gal, but occasionally I do like a nice dessert.  I've been on a big butterscotch kick lately and thought i'd try my hand at a batch of butterscotch blondies.  

I just love blondies - the underrated, buttery, golden cousin of the brownie. Of course, I couldn't leave out the chocolate entirely, so I added just a few chocolate chips in with the butterscotch chips for a hint of chocolatey goodness. 

These blondies are so simple to whip up - they would even make a great kid friendly cooking project.  The results are a chewy, buttery treat, filled with butterscotch and chocolate.  


*1 stick butter (1/2 c.), at room temperature
*1/2 c. sugar
*1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
*1 egg
*1 tsp. vanilla
*1/2 tsp. baking powder
*1 c. flour
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/2 c. butterscotch chips
*1/4 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 9X9 baking dish.  In a bowl, cream together room temperature butter with both white and brown sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Add baking powder, flour, and salt, and mix until well combined.  Fold in chocolate chips. Add batter to the buttered baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Enjoy! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Southern Bruschetta

Today I want to share with you my go to, some-assembly-required appetizer, for when you need a quick party trick and are running low on time: Pimento Cheese and Pulled Pork Bruschetta. 

This appetizer came to be one day when a friend invited us on her boat for a little cruise after work.  We enjoyed cocktail hour on the boat and of course I couldn't show up empty handed, but I only had about twenty minutes after work to put something together.  I went to Whole Foods to pick up something prepared when this idea came to me.  Every since, it has been my go to and one of my most requested recipes!  

Whole Foods almost always has pulled pork on the buffet, which is what I buy for this.  Most stores have prepared pulled pork in the refrigerated section if you need to buy it earlier, or don't have a Whole Foods.  I choose my favorite brand of pimento cheese, but you could also make it homemade if you prefer. Serve on toasted bread or prepared crostini and you're all set! 

*pulled pork
*pimento cheese
*pickled jalapeƱos or dill pickle chips for serving

Spread pimento cheese on prepared crostini.  Top with a generous spoonful of pulled pork.  Serve topped with jalapeƱos or pickles, or serve on the side so guests can top their own. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Kitchen Updates

Mike and I have been debating for quite a while now whether we want to move or stay in our current home.  We love the location and layout of our current house, so we ultimately decided to stay put for at least 4-5 more years as we save up for what hopefully will be our forever home. 

Since we'll be here for the foreseeable future, we've started making a few updates around the house.  We added a patio, will soon be replacing some sliding doors with french doors, fenced in our yard, and best of all - made a few updates to the kitchen!  I spend so much time in the kitchen, I thought I might as well make it a little prettier.  My dream kitchen is totally open with a giant flat island in the center, but since a complete renovation is out of the question, I settled for some new tile floors and a fun new backsplash. 

Here are the before pictures. Those tiles made me crazy!! They were just terrible, and forever looked filthy, even right after I mopped. 

We had no backsplash before.  If I had known how easy it was to put up a backsplash, I would have done it years ago (not that I did it myself, but i'm pretty sure I could have after I saw how easy it was). 

A few weeks ago I picked up this island at a consignment store and I am absolutely in love with it!  It's so great to have some more counter space.  I usually keep my fruit bowl there, and it's a great place to put an appetizer when we have guests. It's also great to have hooks on the end for my purse and lunchbox.  They used to always end up on the table, crowding dinner time. 

 I'm in love with our new backsplash.  I dream of carrera marble counter tops, but this marble backsplash will have to do for now.  It was actually reasonable priced for marble at about $11 a foot.  We found it at Home Depot. 

We found our new floor tile at Lowes.  We thought we'd stick with the gray flooring to tie in the countertops and the lighter gray marble backsplash tiles.  

I'm glad we went with the dark grout for a little contrast.  Now I just need to work on a few styling updates, and we'll be all set!

All in all this was about a four day process. Although it was challenging not having a kitchen for a few days, it was totally worth it! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hot Pink Lemonade

Happy Monday all!  I hope everyone had a great weekend - seems like there was so much going on, between the derby, the fight, and a few other things happening around Wilmington. 

Saturday I went to an amazing derby party.  There was a mint julep bar, a little gambling (I won a whole dollar!), and some amazing southern food.  Since my pregnant friend was hosting, I thought i'd make her a fun drink to enjoy. 

This hot pink lemonade is so simple to put together, so refreshing, and absolutely gorgeous.  It actually started as blackberry lemonade but when I was done, it didn't taste like blackberry, but it DID turn the lemonade a beautiful shade of pink.  Best of all, it's totally natural. 

*1 c. sugar
*1 c. fresh lemon juice (I got this from about 7 really juicy lemons)
* 6 oz. blackberries
* 1lemon, sliced, for garnish

Combine sugar, 1 c. water and blackberries in a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium until the sugar is dissolved, mashing the blackberries with a potato masher as they heat.  When the sugar is dissolved, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl.  Allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, juice the lemons.  In a pitcher, combine lemon juice, blackberry simple syrup, and 8 c. water.  Stir well to combine and chill.  Serve over plenty of ice and garnish with a lemon slice.  Enjoy!